Playing the Hano

ʻOhe Hano Ihu – Traditional Hawaiian Flutes

Crafted by  Manu Josiah

These flutes are handmade from invasive species bamboo in Hilo, Hawaii.  Traditional native Hawaiian `Ohe (bamboo) is a clumping species. The invasive bamboo used to make this flute is very detrimental to the native forest because it overtakes the environment it grows in, making it difficult or impossible for native plants in the forest to grow.  This invasive species is also very prolific.

So rather than turning the invasive species into mulch or pouring poison on it which would be hazardous to our own health and environment, I use them to make instruments.

They have been played throughout the world including the Continental United States, Switzerland, Norway and France, and Japan.  They can be heard on several CD’s, “Journey Across the Water” with myself and Native American Flute Player Troy DeRoche and “Moonlight, Sunlight” with renowned Native Hawaiian Storyteller, Leilehua Yuen.

The flutes will retain their beauty for years if, when not in use, they are kept in a soft fabric case or flute bag, andcleanedperiodicallywith a quality guitar cleaner.  Bamboo is a tropical plant and is found in climates of high humidity.  I have tightly wrapped cordage around either end of the flute.  This will help in preventing the flute itself from expanding and contracting, fluctuating with variable temperatures and humidity.

While this is not a guarantee that the flute will not crack in dry humidity I believe wrapping them like this will help prevent cracking.  If the flute does begin to crack, simply add a little bit of water-resistant wood glue along the crack to seal it.  It should continue to play after the glue has dried.

Historically, the `Ohe Hanu Ihu was played by young men as a courting instrument.  In ancient times young men would compose music that would be similar to a calling card.  One could know who the flute player was simply by listening to the melody he was playing even before physically seeing him.  It was also used to accompany Hawaiian Chanters, Hula and story-telling.  The tuning for the flute was typically natural, meaning whatever tune was created is what was used.

Today, because many people are used to hearing harmonic tunings (western tunings) I have modified the flutes to be more aestheticly appealing to the modern ear.  I’ve also added more holes to give the player more options to play different songs.  Traditionally, only one or two holes were used.  Flute lengths varied from 10” to 21”.  There is no written sheet music for the flute.  Just let your spirit lead you.  The more you play, the more you will become comfortable coming up with original music.

Playing the flute is easy and simple.  Rule #1:  Relax.  This flute will not play if you try to force air into it.  You need to be relaxed and breathe normally.

How to Play the ʻOhe Hano Ihu

Purchasing ʻOhe Hano Ihu